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The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong denies re-hiring social work instructors due to financial problems

A Hong Kong university under fire for not renewing the contracts of nine instructors has denied allegations that it faces financial problems and prioritizes research on education in search of better classifications.

The Polytechnic University, known for its strong social work placement program, issued a statement Wednesday night amid growing complaints from the nine teachers in their department of applied social sciences and their supporters in the social work sector.

The instructors were hired as fieldwork supervisors for the students, with half the workload of the full-time workers. They said they were told that their contracts that would end in August would not be renewed because the department faced a deficit of more than HK $ 24 million (US $ 3 million) by 2020.

The news provoked accusations from teachers that PolyU was "threatening the quality of teaching about social labor insertion", "exploiting" teachers and ignoring their labor rights.

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According to the instructors, the school said it could rehire some of them as part-time supervisors , where they would be paid per hour.

Although part-time supervisors can also perform, they tend to face only two students per semester, compared to about five for part-time instructors

Fung Wai-wah, president of the Union of professional teachers

In its statement, PolyU explained that the measure was intended to align its practices with those of other local institutions.

"[For] other local universities, supervision work is mainly occupied by supervisors of part-time sessions based on the number of students in placement," he said.

The president of the Professional Trade Union of Teachers, Fung Wai-wah, a former social worker, said however that keeping the part-time instructors would provide more stability and continuity.

"While part-time supervisors can also act, they tend to face only two students per semester, compared to five that part-time instructors receive, who also do workshops sometimes," he said.

] According to PolyU, the department employed about 60 part-time workers to perform 70 percent of supervisory work, while the rest was done by full-time and part-time instructors. The nine teachers in question were responsible for about a quarter of the supervisory load.

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The school said that while its financial state was generally healthy, like a publicly funded university, each of its departments had to regularly review your current operating model to ensure effective use of resources.

The university rejected suggestions that it was focusing on research rather than education, saying that nurturing talent was the core mission of PolyU and that it had continuously increased resources aimed at improving the quality of education in recent years.

"We are ready and willing to, in feasible and feasible circumstances, discuss with [the instructors] the associated agreement," the school said.

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Instructors and their collaborators, including various social work groups and teachers, have asked PolyU to retrace the affected teachers and promise to keep the positions of part time instructor.

They also urged the University Grants Committee, which oversees funds for the eight public universities in the city, to return funds for social work students to previous levels. Social work students currently have available resources equivalent to those of a typical college student, a reduction of 1.3 times that of an average student.

The social workers said that the reduction of funds had caused a shortage of resources for social work departments, and that job placements required additional resources to guarantee the quality of training to face the increasingly serious social problems of Hong Kong. .

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